The mega-media company, Disney is known for its assorted family-friendly media content. From fantasies to fairytales, the media giant is also known for its extensive repertoire of young adult to children-focused stories. It is a content strategy that has driven it to the top of the media game. Its extensive catalog of intellectual property allows it to tap into its popularity and make spin-offs of the ideas. One of such examples is Descendants 2 which is a spin-off of 2015’s Descendants. Both movies tell serialized stories of the children of some of the popular villains in Disney fairytales.
The Descendants franchise joins a list of Disney-made musical fantasy franchises like the High School Musical franchise. The first movie in the franchise, Descendants was released in 2015 with acclaimed success. The movie, which was made for the Disney channel birthed a sequel, Descendants 2, that was released on every Disney-owned network, with a third movie lined up for release in 2019.
Each movie in the franchise so far has an accompanying original music and film soundtrack as is the tradition of Disney musical movies. The soundtrack of the first movie, Descendants peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and the soundtrack for Descendants 2 peaked at number 6. Both soundtracks are certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Descendants 2: Synopsis
We’ve mentioned earlier that the Descendants franchise is a story about the lives of the children of Disney villains. The first movie takes the proceedings from 20 years since Belle and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast) ruled the Disney universe and established the United States of Auradon. The newly formed Utopia expelled the villains from the new kingdom and forced them to live on the Isle of the Lost.
The story takes shape when the son of Belle and the Beast takes over the throne and makes a proclamation to bring four of the children of the villains banned to the Isle of the Lost into Auradon, so they do not grow under the influence of their parents. The children, Carlos, Jay, Evie, and Mal, offsprings of Cruella de Vil, Jafar, The Evil Queen, and Maleficent respectively are removed from their parents and brought into Auradon to attend Auradon Prep, a high school ran by the Fairy Godmother. The first movie’s theme is ‘nature vs nurture and how the socialization of children during their formative years impacts the kind of person they become.
Descendants 2 picks up from where the first movie left the story, with the children trying to settle into their new lives as citizens of Auradon. Mal is the girlfriend of Ben the king, but she and her friends continue to find themselves outside the shadow of their parents’ reputation. The story continues the theme of the first movie, exploring the pain and difficulty of overcoming nature with nurture. Mal is forced to become a blonde, changing her hair from her signature look in order to fit in with her new less villainy environment. The story, which focuses on Mal and her struggles, follows her as she returns to the Isle of the Lost in order to live life as her true self. Descendants 2, aside from the nature vs nurture running theme, also explores insecurities, growth, and self-acceptance.
Descendants 2 Cast and Characters
Descendants 2 largely follows the major players from the first installment in the franchise. The characters of Descendants 2 include – Mal, Carlos, Evie, Jay, Ben, Jane, the Fairy Godmother, Gil, Belle, Beast, and a few other minor characters.
Disney is known for casting many young stars on its array of television and movie projects. It is a strategy that allows it to make good movies on a smaller budget whilst giving a platform for children and young adult actors and actresses to showcase their talents and build a sustainable career from there. It is a model that has produced Hollywood stars like Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez, to name a few. It is a model that Disney continues with for the Descendants franchise which is populated with relative unknowns with a filmography of little to no previous projects. Here is the list of the major cast of Descendants 2.
Mal – Played By Dove Cameron
Dove Cameron plays Mal, the daughter of Maleficent. Reprising her role from the first film, Dove Cameron is the lead actor of the franchise. Dove’s business relationship with Disney started before Descendants. The American actress was the lead on the Disney Channel show, Liv and Maddie for three seasons before getting cast as the lead on Descendants. Dove, who is also a singer has released a slew of songs that have appeared on the Billboard Kid Digital Songs chart. With a career that is majorly focused on Disney, her few non-Disney projects include appearances on TV Shows like Shameless, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and The Mentalist. She has also appeared in several movies such as Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors and Barely Lethal.
Carlos – Played By Cameron Boyce
Cameron Boyce plays Carlos, son of Cruella De Vil. The American actor has appeared in a few notable projects such as Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2. He plays Luke Ross on the Disney Channel series, Jessie. An accomplished dancer, Cameron has appeared in the web series, The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Outside of acting, Cameron is also a philanthropist, helping the Thirst Project raise $27,000 in 2017.
Evie – Played By Sofia Carson
Although her real name is Sofia Daccarett Char, Sofia prefers to go by, looking to distance herself from the Char family of Columbian politicians. She made her first television appearance on Disney’s Austin & Ally in 2014 and was cast as Evie in Descendants in 2015. Since then, she’s appeared in other film and television projects including the highly anticipated Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. Sofia Carson is also a singer signed to Hollywood Records. She has released a few singles and is currently working on her debut album.
Descendants 2 Jay – Played By Booboo Stewart
Booboo Stewart is one of the few casts of Descendants 2 with notable appearances in non-Disney projects. He’s appeared in The Twilight Saga and played Warpath in the Marvel-Fox X-Men franchise movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past. He made his onscreen debut in 2004 and has appeared in over 20 movies and TV shows since. He’s also a philanthropist, having worked with PETA, Childhelp, and an ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy Association
Ben – Played By Mitchell Hope
Mitchell Hope is an Australian actor whose career featured several minor roles before getting cast in 2015 as Ben in the Descendants. The actor, born in 1994, is also a model. He is currently dating Tayla Audrey, an Australian actress.
Fairy – Godmother Played By Melanie Paxson
Melanie Paxson plays the Fairy Godmother, the headmistress of Auradon High. One of the few talents in the franchise with an extensive filmography outside of Disney, Paxson has featured on other notable works like Masters of Sex, Trollhunters, and The Outfield. She started professional acting in 1997.
Uma – Played By China Anne McClain
China Anne plays Uma, the daughter of Ursula, another Disney villain in Descendants 2. One of the more prominent names on the Disney roster, China has a Disney career that started with Hannah Montana before landing a recurring role in Jonas, a guest role on Wizards Of Waverly Place and eventually getting her the lead role with A.N.T Farm. She’s also a singer as part of a music group with her two sisters. Outside of Disney, she starred in Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls and is currently starring in Black Lightning, a CW TV show.
Queen Belle – Played By Keegan Connor Tracy
Keegan Connor Tracy plays Belle, the mother of Ben in the Descendants franchise. The Canadian, who is more known for her work in Final Destination and White Noise, was cast in 2015 for the role and is scheduled to appear in the third installment of the franchise. Her other works include recurring roles on The Magicians, Once Upon A Time, Bates Motel and Stargate Sg-1.
Beast – Played By Dan Payne
The Beast, played by Dan Payne, is one of the more unconventional actors in the casting list of the Descendants franchise. Dan started his professional career started as a volleyball player before venturing into acting after his retirement from the sport. Despite a late entry into the acting industry in 2001, the Canadian actor has appeared in over 30 Television shows and Movies since. His other works include appearances on the CW show, Legends of Tomorrow as well as the Good Witch.
Other notable casts of Descendants 2 include Zachary Gibson as Doug, Brenna D’Amico as Jane, Dylan Playfair as Gil, and Thomas Doherty as Harry Hook.
All You Need To Know About Descendants 2
Descendants 2 was ordered for production in 2015 following the success of the first movie. It was written by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott and was directed by Kenny Ortega.
As a Disney musical film, it featured an original movie soundtrack performed by the cast of the movie. The soundtrack album peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. The soundtrack enjoyed a similar reception as the movie itself, which despite not being a featured release in cinemas, was seen by 8.92 million viewers on its first night of release across all of Disney’s networks.
The movie, however, hasn’t seen similar success from film awards, with its only recognition coming from the Saturn Awards, a nomination for the Best Television Presentation in 2018. The movie was released for home viewing on August 15, 2017, and is available on streaming sites such as Netflix.